Apple updates PowerBooks, Power Macs, intros Aperture

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Apple vice president of worldwide product market David Moody spoke to invited guests at a special press event on Wednesday in New York City.

Today’s event is all about bringing innovations to creative pros, Moody told the assembled. “We have several announcements spanning hardware and software,” he said.

New PowerBooks

First on the list are refreshed PowerBook models. Moody announced two new systems — 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks. The 15-inch model now features a screen with 1440 x 960 resolution, similar to the previous generation 17-inch model. The 17-inch model now features a 1680 x 1050 pixel display — the same resolution as Apple’s 20-inch Cinema Display

The new PowerBooks sport 22 percent greater battery life, standard DVD-RW “SuperDrives” and built-in support for Apple’s gargantuan 30-inch Cinema HD Display, according to Moody. Prices start at $1,499 for the 12-inch model, $1,999 for the 15-inch model and $2,499 for the 17-inch model. All systems are shipping today.

New Power Macs

Apple has also updated its Power Mac G5 system, which Moody calls the “system of choice for creative professionals that need power.”

The new systems feature dual-core PowerPC processors and a new system architecture that can support up to 16GB of 533MHz DDR2 RAM. They can also hold up to 1 terabyte (TB) of internal Serial ATA (SATA) storage, and are the first Power Macs to feature PCI Express (PCIe) expansion slots. DDR2 RAM and PCIe are both featured on Apple’s recently refreshed iMac G5 system.

Apple has worked with graphics maker Nvidia Corp. to feature four new graphics options for the refreshed Power Mac G5 line, including the Quadro FX 4500 — Nvidia’s fastest workstation card. This fills a gap in the Power Mac line that has long been criticized by 3D graphics professionals and others who have wanted faster graphics systems than the consumer-oriented cards and chips Apple has offered in the past. The Quadro card can support dual 30-inch displays, according to Moody.

The new Power Macs G5 “Quad” system touts eight floating point units, four velocity engines, four 1MB Level 2 caches and is capable of processing 76.6 gigaflops. “There is some serious horsepower under the hood,” said Moody.

The Power Mac G5 starts in a single-processor, dual-core configuration clocked at 2.0GHz for $1,999. The 2.3GHz dual-core system costs $2,499, and the “Quad” dual-processor, dual-core system starts at $3,299.

Cinema HD Displays

Apple has also realigned pricing on its 23-inch and 30-inch CInema HD Displays. Effective today, the 23-inch Cinema HD Display costs $1,299, down from $1,499, while the 30-inch Cinema HD Display costs $2,499, down from $2,999.

Aperture

Apple’s vice president of Applications Marketing, Rob Schoeben, next took the stage to talk about some of the challenges now facing digital photographers: Culling through media cards, retouching images, delivering on tight deadlines.

“Post production is a seamless extension of the creative process, not an afterthought,” said Schoeben.

Schoeben explained that photographers lack a solution like Final Cut Pro. Enter Aperture, Apple’s “first all in one post production tool for photographers.”

Built specifically for pro photographers, Aperture features and end-to-end RAW workflow, and makes RAW as easy to work with as JPEG, according to Schoeben.

A feature called Stacks lets photographers group sequences of shots together based on the time between shutter clicks. The software features a full-screen workspace and a completely editable environment that can span multi-image displays.

A multi-image viewer lets you check images side-by side, up to 10 or 12 on a side, at magnifications up to 800 percent.

Aperture also sports essential tools like red-eye reduction, cropping, straightening and more, and features a non-destructive workflow and versioning capabilities.

Aperture users can quickly create and print comp layouts, and can customize proof sheets and contact sheets. You can also order prints online and publish online or to .Mac.

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